Aerospace engineering and operations technicians operate and maintain equipment used in developing, testing, producing, and sustaining new aircraft and spacecraft.
What they do
Aerospace engineering and operations technicians operate and maintain equipment used in developing, testing, producing, and sustaining new aircraft and spacecraft. Increasingly, these workers are being required to program and run computer simulations tools and processes in their work, as well as advanced automation and robotics. Their work is critical in preventing the failure of key parts of new aircraft, spacecraft, and missiles. They also help in the quality assurance, testing, and operation of advanced technology equipment used in producing aircraft and the systems that go into the aircraft.
Aerospace engineering and operations technicians typically do the following:
- Meet with aerospace engineers to discuss details and implications of test procedures
- Build and maintain test facilities for aircraft systems
- Make and install parts and systems to be tested in test equipment
- Operate and calibrate computer systems so that they comply with test and manufacturing requirements
- Ensure that test procedures are performed smoothly and safely
- Record data from test parts and assemblies
- Install instruments in aircraft and spacecraft
- Monitor and ensure quality in producing systems that go into the aircraft
New aircraft designs undergo years of testing before they are put into service, because the failure of key parts during flight can be fatal. As part of the job, technicians often calibrate test equipment, such as wind tunnels, and determine the causes of equipment malfunctions. They also may program and run computer simulations that test the new designs.
Aerospace engineering and operations technicians work in manufacturing or industrial plants, laboratories, and offices. Those who work in manufacturing or industrial plants are frequently directly involved in assembling aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft. Many are exposed to hazards from equipment or from toxic materials, but incidents are rare as long as proper procedures are followed.
How to become an Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians
Many employers prefer to hire aerospace engineering and operations technicians who have earned an associate’s degree in engineering technology or who have completed vocational-technical education in computer programming or robotics, and machining. Prospective technicians also may earn certificates or diplomas offered by vocational or technical schools. Some aerospace engineering and operations technicians must have security clearances to work on projects related to national defense. U.S. citizenship may be required for certain types and levels of clearances.
High school students interested in becoming aerospace engineering and operations technicians should take classes in math, science, and, if available, drafting and computer skills. Courses that help students develop skills collaboratively with machines also are valuable, because these technicians build what aerospace engineers design. In addition, technicians should have a basic understanding of computers and software in order to model or simulate products.
Aerospace engineering and operations technicians typically need to earn an associate’s degree or a certificate from a community college or vocational–technical school. Community colleges offer programs similar to those in technical institutes but include more theory-based and liberal arts coursework and programs. Community colleges typically award an associate’s degree, but some offer a certificate. Vocational–technical schools include postsecondary institutions that emphasize training needed by local employers. Students who complete these programs typically receive a diploma or certificate, but some vocational–technical schools offer an associate’s degree as well.
The median annual wage for aerospace engineering and operations technicians was $66,020 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $41,680, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $99,970.
Employment of aerospace engineering and operations technicians is projected to grow 7 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. Most employment growth for these workers will be in the professional, scientific, and technical services industry. Aircraft may be redesigned to cut down on noise pollution and to raise fuel efficiency, spurring demand for technicians to work on these projects.
Similar Job Titles
Avionics Installation Technician, Avionics Technician, Avionics Test Technician, Electronics Technician, Engineering Technician, Engineering Test Technician, Flight Test Instrument Technician, Instrumentation Technician, Systems Test Technician, Test Technician
Electrical Engineer, Electronics Engineer, Mechanical Engineering Technician, Electronics Engineering Technologist, Manufacturing Engineering Technologist
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- Aerospace Industries Association - This organization’s vision is to help our united membership improve the safety of air transportation, make America more secure, fuel exploration, drive innovation and ensure a vibrant industrial base.
- Aircraft Electronics Association - The mission of the Aircraft Electronics Association is to be a worldwide, self-sustaining organization committed to enhancing the profitability of its members. Students, check out the long list of scholarships
- American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics - This organization believes that aeronautic and astronautic professionals and students and STEM educators are the drivers of global innovation. It is committed to providing resources and experiences that assist in your personal and professional development. For the interested K-12 student, there is ample information to suit your interest in this field.
- General Aviation Manufacturers Association - This association seeks to promote a better understanding of general aviation manufacturing, maintenance, repair, and overhaul and the important role these industry segments play in economic growth and opportunity, and in serving the critical transportation needs of communities, companies and individuals worldwide. Students, internships are available.
- National Business Aviation Association - NBAA is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. Students, view the long list of scholarships
Magazines and Publications
Seen from the ground... the flight of a jumbo jet... or the launching of a space shuttle... can seem like magic. For the aerospace engineering and operations technicians who work on these modern marvels up close, these events are part of their everyday jobs. These technicians help ensure that aerospace engineers' experimental designs for air and space vehicles are feasible and can be implemented. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians build test facilities, then run tests on prototypes or new models to find problems in design or function. They record test data and make adjustments to prevent dangerous equipment failures. Making live tests function as intended requires both communication skills and technical skills. Often when something isn't working, technicians and engineers troubleshoot together, so technicians must know how to ask the questions that will lead to the right answers. Most aerospace engineering and operations technicians work full time in manufacturing plants, laboratories, and offices. In plants, technicians are directly involved in assembling aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians typically earn an associate's degree in engineering technology. Security clearance may be required for work related to national defense. Proper execution of their duties is crucial both for safety and performance. In the end, it's these technicians who carry the weight of flight.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistic www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org